It's been a gradual return to training for Gold Coast Titans playmakers AJ Brimson and Toby Sexton to ensure the new combination is fit and firing for the start of the upcoming Telstra Premiership season.
With just over a month until the first trial match of the season - a Queensland derby against the Brisbane Broncos on February 19 - Titans high performance manager Klint Hoare said his main focus at the moment is managing player workloads, especially for the halves duo who are returning from COVID-19 isolation.
Qscan rehab report: Managing pre-season workloads
"We’re just looking over the loading of our players currently," Hoare said.
"Toby picked up a little strain just in the gastroc (calf) [on Monday], but he’ll be sweet in the next 14 days, so we’ll re-introduce him next week.
"We’ve got our camp up at Sanctuary Cove and we’ll re-introduce him into some skills and then start to increase his loading towards the back-end of the week, in Thursday and Friday’s sessions.
"AJ is more around our COVID protocols and returning to full training. We’re just monitoring his loads at the moments.
"I think the game and all sports are navigating soft-tissue injury from the de-conditioning of players, so we’re just being really careful around that.
"We’ve got a minimum 26-week season coming up and we’re still five to six weeks away from the first game.
"It’s all about controlling the loading and the management needs to be correct."
Sexton and Brimson's mitigated return has opened the door for some of the Gold Coast's young guns to train in the halves with the rest of the squad; the likes of Paul Turner, Shallin Fuller and Tom Weaver thriving on the opportunity to be the primary playmakers over the last week.
Turner - an exciting young prospect who has joined the club from the Warriors - has overcome a number of injuries to be at full fitness and ready to rip into a big 2022 season ahead.
"What a really freakish athlete we’ve got in Paul Turner... really fast and great acceleration," Hoare said.
"He’s had some runs with injury in regards to his shoulder last year getting a reconstruction. He then came back and picked up a few little calf niggles, but he’s fully fit now and really handling the load nicely.
"Post COVID, we’ll build him again and I’m looking forward to seeing him play."
Fellow new recruit Aaron Booth is also on his way to full fitness from post-season surgery after being forced to isolate last week.
"What a frustrating case for Aaron Booth. He was a close contact and then picked [COVID] up," Hoare said.
"He’s one of those guys that’s returning from injury. He has a positive frame of mind and we’ve got no doubts he’ll be ready to go for at least the trial versus the Warriors at Redcliffe."
With a majority of the Titans squad impacted by the recent Omicron wave in South East Queensland, Hoare said the effect of the virus on each member of the playing group post-return is ever-learning, as the club adapts to the new challenge.
"It’s a case-by-case scenario. Every player is going to be different and every player is going to have different symptoms, whether it be neck down or neck above," Hoare said.
"We're looking to minimise accumulated fatigue at the back end of the week.
"We’ve been really smart in mapping out what training looks like, so we’re really focussing around football as our main priority and making sure they’re in drills, and then we can look at topping up with conditioning and speed work around that."
The playing group will enter their annual training camp next Tuesday.